Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Move at dusk

I am in preparation for a sermon on 2 Kings 7.  A date is set. Final preparations are being made.  It is a blessing to dwell in a particular part of Scripture.

In 2 Kings 7, four lepers from the town of Samaria get up from their position outside the city gate and walk to the camp of the enemy that is besieging the town:

At dusk they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans.
When they reached the edge of the camp, no one was there. 

Now, it is worth considering why the lepers chose to commence their journey at dusk.  Dusk is the darker part of twilight - the time when the last light of day is seeping away. 

Other Bible verses perhaps provide some answers.  For instance, this verse from Job indicates that dusk allows for stealth:

The eye of the adulterer watches for dusk; he thinks,
 ‘No eye will see me,’ and he keeps his face concealed.

This verse from Joshua - the words of Rahab - indicates that dusk is a time when the city gate is closed - thus allowing the lepers to leave without being noticed by the guard:

 At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, they left.
I don’t know which way they went.
Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.”

That verse also indicates that dusk is a time of hiding and a suitable time to evade others.

So, it is most likely that the lepers left at dusk to secretly exit their post, to travel discreetly and to approach the enemy camp at a time when the enemy was perhaps off-guard.  It seems odd that they would evade their own city's sentinels in that the severe hunger in the town had probably caused much break in daily order.  Possibly, the lepers could have left their post at any time without coming to anyone's notice.  Nonetheless, it would have been appropriate to approach the enemy at time when they were most unlikely to face force.

Dusk was also possibly the time that bought some change in the enemy camp - a time when the daily pattern ended and the camp settled to rest.  Perhaps, only a limited watch of men were on duty.  The enemy was already somewhat slovenly in their duties as the siege was long and without any battle the effort would be light.

Some commentators point to the immediacy of the journey.  2 Kings 7:4 records a distinct decision and immediately, 2 Kings 7:5 records the actioning of that decision.  If the lepers had let their decision stand overnight then they would have possibly woken to changed minds.

We can take great comfort that God is not hindered, nor concealed, by dusk.  God was ready to act in turn with the lepers.  God will go before you dawn, dusk, daytime or night!

“A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone, and a torn cloud, like a bloody rag, hung over the spot of its going. And dusk crept over the sky from the eastern horizon, and darkness crept over the land from the east.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath


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